Five things to know about Melbourne sensation Aslan Karatsev

The Russian continues to see records tumble having surged into the Australian Open semi-finals on Grand Slam debut.

Aslan Karatsev Australian Open 2021©Tennis Australia / Mark Peterson
 - Alex Sharp

Everyone loves the rise of an underdog and Aslan Karatsev’s Grand Slam breakthrough continues to captivate Down Under.

The 27-year-old had failed to qualify for Grand Slams on nine previous attempts, most recently defeated by Sebastian Korda (who reached the fourth round) at the final hurdle at Roland-Garros 2020.

However, in 2021, Karatsev has shot into prominence with ferocious firepower and fearless striking to reach the Australian Open semi-finals on his maiden major main draw.

So far the world No.114, a successful player on the ATP Challenger Tour, has dispatched three seeded players en route to the last four.

World No.9 Diego Schwartzman, 20th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime and 18th seed Grigor Dimitrov have all failed to halt the rocketing Russian. 

Here’s five things to know a bit more about Karatsev. 

Observing the best at the O2 Arena

Just over four years ago Karatsev was in the stands at the ATP Finals in London watching the final between Andy Murray and his opponent on Friday, Novak Djokovic.

Perhaps the Scot could pass on some tips on how to defeat the current world No.1?

Karatsev was in London as part of the ATP University, a yearly course for players to learn about the life on and off the court on tour.

Check out the video below including a few familiar faces…

A record set with every move in Melbourne

The 27-year-old declared he had hundreds of messages pinging onto his phone on Tuesday after he booked his historic spot in the last four.

Having navigated past the opening five opponents, Karatsev is the first man in the Open Era to reach the semi-finals on his Grand Slam debut.

The world No.114 is also just the fifth male qualifier to book a semi-final ticket in the Open Era, joining John McEnroe (Wimbledon 1977), Bob Giltinan (Australian Open 1977), Filip Dewulf (Roland-Garros 1997) and Vladimir Voltchkov (Wimbledon 2000). 

Another one; Karatsev is the lowest-ranked man (114) to reach a Grand Slam semi-final since Goran Ivanisevic (125) at Wimbledon in 2001, the year the Croatian won the title at SW19. 

The last Russian man to reach the Australian Open singles last four was… Marat Safin during his incredible 2005 title run.

Karatsev, Medvedev, Rublev©Tennis Australia / Fiona Hamilton

ATP Cup champions triumvirate 

Speaking of Russia, Karatsev was part of the squad to lift the ATP Cup earlier this month at Melbourne Park.

The 27-year-old teamed up to play in one doubles match alongside captain Evgeny Donskoy. The singles heroics of Top 10 duo Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev landed the silverware for the side.

Medvedev and Rublev take on each other in the Melbourne quarter-finals on Wednesday (the first time ever three Russian men have reached the final eight in a major), meaning two Russians will be in the semi-final schedule. How about an all-Russian final?

Earlier this month Medvedev described Karatsev as their “secret weapon” at ATP Cup. He’s not such a secret now!

Achieving his 2021 season goal by March

One thing that keeps cropping up in Karatsev’s press conferences is that he is determined to crack the Top 100 this campaign. Mission accomplished.

13 months ago, down at No.292, the 27-year-old’s ranking wasn’t high enough to enter the qualifying draw at Melbourne Park. 

Now, his live ranking is within the Top 50 and should the qualifier pull off the seismic shock against Djokovic, he’ll be inside the Top 30.

Previously played doubles alongside his coach

From Russia to Halle, to Barcelona and now Minsk, Karatsev has relocated himself several times to try and find the formula to success.

He moved to Belarus to team up with former ATP player Yahor Yatsyk as his coach, who he credits for improving his mental side to the game.

The duo met at a tournament a few years ago and have even played doubles together in professional contests.

On the ATP’s website, the last match Yatsyk played at this level was partnering Karatsev at the Qatar F6 Futures event in December 2016.